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Camping gear maintenance to do in the off-season

Use your downtime to do some much needed maintenance on your camping gear.

By: Aurora Slaughter + Save to a List

Have you ever gotten back from a camping trip insisting you will fix that broken zipper or hole in your tent only to forget about it until you are already setting up camp? If so, you’re not alone. We’ve all been there.

Now is the time when we turn in our tents and hiking boots for skis and puffy jackets. But before we store away all that camping gear, we may as well reminisce about those warm summer days while fixing a thing or two.

If you are looking to get that gear into tip-top shape before your next camping trip, read below for some camping gear maintenance advice.

Wash Gear

After a great season of epic adventures, your camping equipment is probably in need of a good wash. Clean dirt out of zippers, sweep out your tent, wipe down sleeping pads and rain tarps, and wash your sleeping bag. This will help keep your gear in good shape and increase its longevity.

A dog rests in a sleeping bag in the tent

Photo by: Kathleen Morton

Check every zipper and buckle

Check all of the zipper teeth to make sure none are bent. Make sure buckles on things like backpacks and tents aren’t broken or worn down. It can also be a good idea on things like tents and sleeping bags to check the stitching above the zippers to make sure it is not tearing. The last thing you want to do is to have to repair these when you are out in the wilderness with minimal access to resources. Therefore, even if it looks worn down but hasn’t broken yet it may be a good idea to get your zippers and buckles fixed. There are many local tailor shops that will repair these things for you or you can send them to places like Rugged Thread to have them repaired.

Replenish fuel and repair stove

A person cooks on a small camping stove

Photo by: Jamie Fleck

Sometimes camp meals are the best meals. In order to make them though, you often need a good stove and fuel. Ensure that the fuel line is functioning properly and there is no grease build-up or dirt and grime stuck in the burner. There are a lot of great repair kits available for the type of camping stove you have so you can make any necessary repairs. It is also important to replenish the fuel for your stove so you don’t arrive at the campsite with empty fuel tanks and empty stomachs.

Look for rips or holes and patch them

Two tents are set up in a campground with a picnic table

Photo by: Michael Martineau

It can be so easy to miss any small rips or holes in your camping gear. There are several camping items that are essential to check for small rips. Look along your sleeping bag lining for any areas where the threads have come loose. Make sure there are no holes in your sleeping pad by putting it under a tub of water and checking to see if any bubbles come out. This signifies there is some leakage and it needs to be patched. Finally, check your tent and rain cover for any tears in the mesh. The rain cover is especially important as any tiny holes may lead to a wet and cold tent. There are many options for patching minor holes yourself such as Noso patches. For any rips that are beyond your level of expertise, you can send them to places like REI which has a professional repair service.

Fix tent poles

Sometimes tent poles get bent into odd shapes after a long time of use or the shock cord loosens and no longer functions properly. If you are having issues with your tent poles you can send them to tent pole technology for repairs. While checking your tent poles, check the tent eyelets/grommets you insert the poles into as well. If any are missing or broken, you can purchase eyelet replacing kits so your poles fit snugly in place.

Re-waterproof gear

A tent sits in a small clearing in the trees

Photo by: TJ Orton

Sometimes after a long period of use, the waterproofing on our tents, backpacks, and tarps is no longer as effective. Therefore, it is important that you refresh the waterproof coatings sometimes. Use seam sealer on tents and other important seams and a water-repellant spray on your equipment to ensure the moisture will just bead off instead of soaking in.

Replace any lost equipment

Sometimes equipment gets lost. Maybe you left that piece of paracord or a tent stake behind. Maybe an animal stole a spoon you left out or a storm blew your tent bag away. Whatever crazy adventure mishap caused your gear to go missing, try to replace it early on while you still remember what you lost.

Cover Photo by: Sarah Vaughn

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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